Most practicing scientists scarcely harbor any doubts that science makes progress. For, what they see is that despite the many false alleys into which science has strayed across the centuries, despite the waxing and waning of theories and beliefs, the history of science, at least since the ‘early modern period’ (the 16th and 17th centuries) is one of steady accumulation of scientific knowledge. For most scientists this growth of knowledge is progress. Indeed, to deny either the possibility or actuality of progress in science is to deny its raison d’être.
Teenage rebellion is nothing new and religion can be a powerful flashpoint between parents and their children, convinced that the older generation has got it all wrong. As radical Islam attracts teenagers in 21st century Europe, so in early modern England the Reformation produced versions of Protestantism and Catholicism that provided powerful ways for children to reject their parents’ beliefs.
In its simplest form, the American Dream asserts that success should be determined by effort, not one’s starting point. This is the promise on which most Americans base their hopes and the calculus that is supposed to govern our institutions.
Despite succeeding in reuniting the nation after the Civil War, American Reconstruction saw little social and political cohesion. Division—between North and South, black and white, Democrat and Republican—remained unmistakable across the nation. In the following excerpt from Reconstruction: A Concise History, Allen C. Guelzo delves into the complicated nature of race and politics during this […]
Humanitarianism is an active belief in the value of human life. World Humanitarian Day is held every year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world. On this minisode of The Oxford Comment, Marketing Coordinator, Katelyn Phillips, speaks […]
Idealizing pre-modern life has a long history in western culture. When Europeans discovered the vast new world of the Americas, new visions and possibilities arose in their imagination, not just of the Native Americans that populated the new continent, but of Europeans themselves. The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes understood Native Americans to live in a pre-civil condition, savages ridden with violence.
The Women’s Suffragist movement spans multiple generations. 72 years passed between the Seneca Falls convention in 1848 and the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. During that time, women skillfully organized, mobilized, and built a powerful social movement to achieve their long-sought goal. Let’s look back at the events that led up to that […]
Does democratic politics eliminate political violence? Are citizens of a democracy prepared to resolve their political differences solely at the ballot box? The fighting at Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 suggests that these are questions as relevant today as at the highpoint of European political confrontation during the interwar years.
Justice Byron R. White, who served on the Supreme Court for 31 years (1962-1993), once observed that every time a new justice joins the court, it’s a new court. His observation may sound counter-intuitive: after all, a new justice joins eight incumbents. Can a single new member make such a difference?
Lions have enchanted humans since early Antiquity, and were even represented in European cave paintings from 35,000 years ago. They are regularly the main characters in folklore and allegory, appearing everywhere from African folktales to the Bible. It is not hard to see why lions are so ubiquitously revered. Their fearsome yet stunning appearance, combined with their endearing hunting tactics and formidable roar, answers any questions as to why early societies named the lion ‘King of the Beasts’, and indeed explains why this name is still used today.
On the 5th of July 2018, the National Health Service (NHS) celebrated its 70th anniversary. Aneurin Bevan, the Minister for Health, founded the NHS in 1948 with the aim of bringing together hospitals, doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and opticians under a single umbrella organisation for the first time.
There are some similarities between former Chairman of the Communist Party of China Mao Zedong’s most famous book, Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (“The Little Red Book”) and current General Secretary Xi Jinping’s The Governance of China (“Big White Book”)—the second installment of which came out last year, each volume the same cream color and featuring the same photograph of the author.
History is the academic study of the human race and everything that humans have done stretching back millennia. Though it may tell stories of the past, it is certainly not dead.
A scholarly consensus persists: across time, from the Plague of Athens to AIDS, epidemics provoke hate and blame of the ‘other’. As the Danish-German statesman and ancient historian, Barthold Georg Niebuhr proclaimed in 1816: “Times of plague are always those in which the bestial and diabolical side of human nature gains the upper hand.”
On 1 July, Mexicans elected a new president. The results confirmed what the polls had been predicting for months: Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, won by a landslide of over 50% of the vote—more than 30 points over the second place candidate, Ricardo Anaya of the National Action Party (PAN).
A span of nearly 300 years separates Galileo Galilei from Lord Rayleigh—Galileo groping in the dark to perform the earliest quantitative explorations of motion, Lord Rayleigh identifying the key gaps of knowledge at the turn into the 20th century and using his home laboratory to fill them in. But the two scientists are connected by a continuous thread.